CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines have helped millions of people to successfully treat sleep apnea. The machines are small and deliver pressurized air via a tube and face mask to the patient. A sleep doctor writes a prescription for the amount of pressure that should be delivered. The successful delivery of that pressure is key to success -- too much and the patient may awaken, not enough and the quality of sleep hampered. If you are having trouble with noise or pressure or warning lights are coming on and the machine is still under warranty you should return the malfunctioning unit to the manufacturer for repair. If that is not feasible, there are several mechanical problems that can be easily fixed.
Investigate whether the unit is properly plugged in and then check that the outlet is working properly if there is too little or erratic pressure coming from the hose. Also check to see if the air filter is clogged or if there is a leak in the air hose. If so, these parts will need to be replaced.
Check to see there is no barrier to the passage of air if an alarm comes on and stays on continuously. Examine the hose and the cord leading to the machine. Unplug the machine for at least three minutes, then reconnect and turn back on. Check that the seal between the air hose and the machine is tight and not leaking. If the alarm continues and there is no blockage, an internal part may need replaced. Return the machine to a licensed repair company or to the manufacturer.
Enter the machine's technician's menu if the air pressure is set too high or too low. Usually these menus are hidden and different brands vary on how the menu is accessed. While specific brand instructions can be found on the Internet, in general, they usually require hitting display arrows (usually found as the up and down arrows on the display screen) in unison. Once in the menu, adjust the pressure by only one or two degrees at a time. Let your physician know you made the adjustment. She may determine you need a new sleep study to determine the most effective level of air pressure to treat your sleep apnea.
Unplug the machine and let it dry out if you suspect that condensation is causing the machine to malfunction. If the humidifier attached to the machine has been set at too high of a heat setting, then the excess moisture can cause a warning light to come on in some CPAP models. It can also trigger the SYSTEM ERROR light. Dry out the surfaces and hose and unplug the machine for at least three minutes if this light comes on repeatedly and you are sure the surfaces and hose are completely dry.
Technicians at your sleep lab are usually happy to check your settings at no cost. If the settings are off, they will reset them to the right specification.
Don't force any changes. If your repair attempts are not working, it may be a software problem that should be diagnosed by a certified sleep machine repair company or the manufacturer.